MysteriYES

A comedy mystery podcast in which two friends discuss a weekly mystery.

The World's First Conspiracy Theory

Succession in ancient empires- Persian Empire

Most of what we know is incredibly old

It is also written mostly be the Greeks who didn’t like the Persians

Also written 100 years later

Cyrus the Great

  • One of the greatest leaders to ever live

  • Founded the Achaemenid Empire or the Persian empire

    • Originally nomadic shepherds and goat herders

    • Overthrew the Median Empire or Medes

    • Expanded his territory greatly

      • Incredible politician

      • When a land was conquered he allowed them to keep their culture and religion

        • Option to join or die

        • First time this ever happened

      • Major figure in Judaism

        • Rebuilt the temple

Darius the Great

  • Expanded the empire even further

  • Mentioned in multiple Biblical books

  • Clashed with the Greeks and conquered much of Macedonia

  • Probably a distant relative?

    • Cyrus’s grandfather was Darius’s great grandfather

      • Potentially made up

What happened in between?

  • Death of Cyrus

    • Conquering lands north of modern day Afghanistan

    • Ran into a nomadic tribe called the Massagetae

      • Offered to marry their ruler empress Tomyris

      • She rejected it

    • Tried to conquer

      • Set up bridges and war boats

      • Challenged by Tomyris to engage in honorable combat

    • Massagetae didn’t know what wine was

      • Cyrus moved his best soldiers away

      • Left all of his wine and bad soldiers

      • Tomyris’s forces (led by son) raided the camp

      • Discovered wine and got drunk

      • Cyrus attacked the drunken group

    • Tomyris swore revenge and to lead troops into battle herself

      • Led a second attack

      • Herodotus referred to it as the the fiercest battle the world had ever seen

      • Cyrus was killed and the Persians lost

      • Tomyris asked for Cyrus’s body

        • Cut off head

        • Dipped in blood

  • Cyrus had 2 sons

    • Cambyses & Smerdis/Bardiya (who had like 20 different names)

    • Cambyses

    • Smerdis

      • Given his own mini-kingdom

    • Cambyses Left Persia to conquer Egypt

      • Egyptian pharaoh Amasis sent the daughter of a family Cambyses had killed

      • Took Smerdis with him

      • Left a Magi to watch his thrown

      • Sees that Smerdis is really good with a bow that an Ethiopian king gave him

        • Send him back to Persia

    • According to ancient histories, major mood swings

      • Asked to see Egypt’s sacred bull

        • Named Apis

        • Kills it

        • Plan backfires when he gets sick

      • Asked close confidant named Prexaspes what Persian people thought of him

        • Prexaspes said they spoke well

          • But he drank too much wine

        • Cambyses got really upset

          • Said “if that’s the case then I won’t be very good at shooting a bow and arrow”

          • Killed Prexaspes son

            • Who was his cupbearer

      • Ordered another adviser be killed

        • The adviser ran away

        • Order was never carried out

        • Cambyses regretted decision a few days laters

          • Was overjoyed that adviser was still alive

          • Killed everyone who didn’t follow his order

      • Had a dream

        • Smerdis would take his throne

        • Sent Prexaspes to kill Smerdis

        • Prexaspes went and killed Smerdis

  • Someone takes Cambyses’s throne

    • The news said Smerdis took his brother’s throne

      • According to ancient histories this wasn’t actually Smerdis but an imposter

      • The magi that was left in charge had put someone else on the throne

    • Cambyses returns to Persia

      • Disputed

      • Attempted to march against usurper

      • Died instead

        • Darius

          • He decided that success was impossible and took his own life

        • Greek Historians

          • Accidentally stabbed himself in the leg and died 11 days later

            • Working with wood

            • Mounting horse

        • Some modern historians

          • Assassinated

            • (Talk about later) Darius

            • Smerdis

            • Internal coup

      • Cambysis told his nobles to kill the usurper

    • Overthrowing the Smerdis imposter was easier said than done

      • The new king eliminated a lot of taxes and made exemptions for people who were required to serve in the military

      • With Cambysis dead the Smerdis imposter seemed like the rightful king

        • Only one person knew the real Smerdis was dead

          • Prexaspes wasn’t going to bring it up

  • Who was this person who now controlled the most powerful empire in the world

    • Otanes theory

      • Nobleman who suspected that this was not Smerdis the brother of Cambysis but instead someone else whose name was….. Also Smerdis

      • Apparently the imposter Smerdis had his ears cut off by Cyrus the great “for some grave reason”.

        • New king always had his ears covered

        • Otanes’ daughter Phaidyme was in the king’s harem

        • Asked daughter to expose lie

        • King had no ears

      • In order to solidify their claim, the Smerdis impersonator convinced Prexaspes to confirm him as the rightful king

        • Instead, Prexaspes climbed a tower and told a crowd that he had killed the real Smerdis

          • Threw himself off the tower

    • Izabates theory

      • Close advisor to Cambysis

      • Said Smerdis had been killed in a different way

      • Claimed Smerdis had whipped someone named Sphendadates

        • Sphendadates then went to Cambysis and told him his brother was planning to usurp him

          • Offered proof: told him to summon his brother

          • Smerdis was slow to arrive

        • When Smerdis arrived Cambysis decided to kill him but was hesitant

        • Sphendadates was like “I kind of look like him”

          • Smerdis was forced to drink bull’s blood until it killed him

        • Sphendadates took Smerdis’s role

      • When Cambysis died Sphendadates took over pretending to be Smerdis

      • Izabates gets back into town and is like “woah dude. That wasn’t part of the deal”

    • This is where the histories agree

      • After the revelation of the “false” Smerdis, seven nobleman raid the royal palace

        • Otanes, Megabyzus, Darius who arrived late

      • The group made it into the throne room with little resistance

        • Killed the Smerdis imposter

      • The group had to decide how to rule the empire

        • Otanes proposed democracy

        • Megabyzus proposed oligarchy

          • “Hey guys we could all rule it together if you want”

        • Darius proposed monarchy

          • “Darius the great”

      • Voted on: Monarchy won 4:3

      • Who would be king?

        • Decided on a contest to determine the king

        • All 7 would mount their horses and go to the outskirts of the city

          • Whoever’s horse was the first to neigh at sunrise would become the new king

        • Darius came up with a plot to win the contest

          • Went to his stable master

          • Stable master went to the mare of Darius’s horse and got some *ahem* stank on it

          • Hid hand in robes until sunrise then brought it to the horse’s nostrils

    • Revisionist version

      • Darius was with Cambysis’ army when he was in Egypt

        • Potentially killed him

      • The person on the throne really was Smerdis

      • Prexaspes hadn’t ever killed Smerdis to begin with

      • The idea that Smerdis was an imposter originated with or was taken advantage by Darius